Was it really a moose attack?


Ivory carver Fred Mayac with some of his art/courtesy Alaska Fur Exchange

Fifty-year-old Fred Mayac may never be able to tell authorities what happened to him in Anchorage’s Campbell Creek Estuary Park in June where he was first thought to have been the victim of an assault, then a bear mauling, and finally a moose stomping.

A month on from when  Mayac was found  beaten and bloody on the edge of a dirt road along the park near the west end of an upscale Anchorage neighborhood, the ivory carver originally from Nome remains unconscious in an Anchorage hospital.

Meanwhile, questions have arisen about what exactly happened to him only about a half mile from where President Barack Obama late last summer enjoyed a private dinner with a handful of Alaskans at a mansion on the shores of Campbell Lake.

“We’ve had detectives here a couple times,” Wayne Hanson, Mayac’s one-time employer at Arctic Bed and Breakfast, said Friday.  At least once the detectives brought along mug shots of people who might be somehow involved with Mayac.

Hanson admits to being skeptical of the moose story.

“It wasn’t no moose,” he said. “Some guy picked (Mayac) up here.”

Police seem to have backed away from the moose theory, too.

“This case is still open and under investigation,” Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said in an email response to questions on Friday. “We’ve never officially called it anything. I believe that Fish and Game provided their own conclusions. But we are still reviewing evidence and have not ultimately determined what happened to the man.”

That is somewhat different from what APD said in a “Community Message” posted on June 9 reporting a critically injured and then unidentified man had been found in the Campbell Lake area a day earlier.

“Police conducted a search in the area to determine any possible clues as to what happened to the man” that statement said. “After further investigating and working with medical staff at the hospital, it was determined that the male was likely attacked by a bear. Police have notified Fish and Game about the incident.”

Fish and Game investigated, shot a black bear that didn’t seem afraid of people before the investigation was complete, and eventually concluded there was no evidence any bear was involved in the attack on Mayac. That left only one possible wild animal that could have done the damage –  a moose.

Ken Marsh, the spokesman for Fish and Game, then put out a press release saying a “Moose Likely Responsible.”

“No evidence indicating the presence of a bear was found at the scene” that statement said. “Conversations with Anchorage police later confirmed that a moose had been seen in the vicinity of the attack on the night the man was injured. Officers said the animal had appeared agitated.

“Prior to concluding their investigation, biologists received additional information about injuries sustained by the man in the attack. The injuries were consistent with those of a moose attack. Biologists found nothing to suggest any of the injuries were caused by a bear.”

But the possibility that a human or humans was likely responsible appears to be now under investigation.

Hanson suspects that the individual who picked Mayac up at the B&B  is somehow connected to whatever happened near Campbell Lake. Maybe, Hanson said, someone thought Mayac had valuable ivory or a stash of money from his carving business.

“There was a big shop out behind my place where he worked,” Hanson said. Mayac spent his time there when he wasn’t busy as night manager and housekeeper at the budget-priced B&B on Arctic Boulevard in Midtown only about a block from the Northern Lights McDonald’s Restaurant in an evolving part of the city once known for its massage parlors.

A preschool and childcare center now butts up against the businesses that used to attract a lot of male traffic, but some rough edges remain in this part of the state’s largest city.

“Some other guy got worked over with a hammer here the other day,” said Hanson, who believes there are good reasons to believe something other than a moose attack might have happened to Mayac.

Unfortunately, Mayac might never be able to tell anyone what because he is in a coma.

“It’s very unusual for a coma to last more than a few weeks at most,” according to the Most people unconscious for that long are considered to have slipped into a vegetative or minimally conscious state, although there is always hope for recovery.

People who have suffered traumatic brain injuries have been known to regain consciousness months later, and there is a record of at last one patient regaining consciousness after 20 months.

Hanson has been a regular visitor to see Mayac where he is on life support at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Hanson remains hopeful for his friend though he noted that “nothing has changed very much.

“He is still in a coma. He has a lot of tubes coming out of him.”








1 reply »

  1. Interesting. So this call could be a case of Alaskan’s obsession with bear attacks? Not surprising. Blame the bear first. Blame humans as an afterthought. There are 330,000 people living in Anchorage and 100? bears. And humans consistently attack and kill way more people than bears do. But when we get a chance, we ignore statistics and immediately blame a nearby bear and shoot it dead. Doh!

    Possibly this same mindset played out on the Nome-Council Road with the disappearance of Joseph Balderas. There was a massive search of the backcountry near where his vehicle was found. Folks I talked to suspected that he must have been attacked by a bear. But what did he do for a job? He was a clerk for a court judge. Any chance someone saw him in a court room as the judge he worked for sentenced a friend or relative? Any chance that same someone saw the perfect opportunity for revenge when they spotted this guy running down the road 45 miles out of Nome with nobody around? As in Anchorage, humans kill way more than bears. So instead of a massive backcountry search, perhaps they should have been checking every truck bed in Council and Nome for blood. And checking with everyone that travelled the road, and possibly had a motive, during the day he disappeared. But why take the effort and do that when you can easily just blame a bear.

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